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15 October 2014
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The Bombing of the Odeon Cinema, Brighton

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Ronald Carr
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
06 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer from Brighton on behalf of Ronald Carr and has been added to the site with his permission. Ronald Carr fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

On Saturday the 14th of September 1940 I asked my mother if I could go to the matinee at the cinema with a friend. My mum told me I couldn't go, but my friend and I decided to go anyway. We went along to the Odeon Cinema in Kemp Town, Brighton, to watch "The Ghost Comes Home." The cinema was busy and so we sat towards the back. About half an hour into the film there was a sudden enormous flash from on top of the girders. I jumped up and my friend ducked down under the chairs. Then everything went black and there was a terrible smell. People were screaming. I tried to get to the exit, and I remember the hands of the injured reaching out and trying to grab me as I went. I was later found by the rescue services dazed and wandering. I had shrapnel wounds and was taken to the hospital. As the wounds were not life threatening I was not operated on until the next day. When I woke up after the operation I found that staff had given me a piece of the shrapnel so that I could keep it as a memento.

The bombing of the Odeon left 53 people dead and many injured. My friend and I were both lucky as we were sitting further back, and it was the front rows that took the majority of the blast. It turned out that the bombs were not targeted at the Odeon, but the German bomber had offloaded his arms in an effort to get away from pursuing spitfires. The incident was very traumatic and left me very nervous every time a plane went over. Doctors advised me to go into the Royal Marines to get over my fear. So in 1943 I set off for Australia with the Royal Marines.

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